Hard working boobs
I have asked a lot of my boobs this year. I chose to feed on demand, so that means I've had to have pretty regular access to my boobs. Anywhere, anytime, day or night - baby is hungry? Pop! Out comes the boob. Easy boob access has been pretty great for other situations too - when you're trying to pump at work, or when you're trying to calm down a crying baby on a plane, or when you just plain feel like giving your baby a moment to reset and to comfort them. One day, I realized that I had shifted my entire way of thinking about my wardrobe.
I wasn't exactly starting from a healthy place. You see, like so many other young women, I spent much of my youth worrying about whether what I was wearing was too revealing. I had internalised a lot of shame about my body.
It feels great to remove that trash from my mind. Now, I get to worry that my neckline is not revealing enough. I have a baby to feed! I don't have time to internalize misogyny. Breastfeeding is hard and my boobs are doing a good job. I am proud! I'm not going to cover them up because others might be uncomfortable with my body. That's their problem. A woman's body is nothing to be ashamed of.
I knew that as my body changed I would have to make concessions for maternity clothes, but I never realized that I would have to adjust what I wore after my baby was born, too. I seriously didn't even realize I was picking all of my outfits based on easy boob access. Looking back, there were definitely some clear experiences that pushed me towards this mindset.
One rookie mistake early on was wearing a dress to work and realizing I had to take the whole thing off to pump. On the plus side, just about stripping down to your underwear is a great conversation starter with the other moms using the communal pumping room. For the better part of a year, I made sure to always wear a pumping-bra friendly tank top underneath every shirt I wore. And I stopped wearing dresses entirely.
Another mistake was wearing a sweater with a high neckline during a flight. I had to lift and hold up the whole thing and the shirt underneath just to nurse my baby during takeoff and landing. It was predictably chilly on that plane (which is why I chose to wear a sweater), but I should have prioritized boob access instead. Exposing my entire belly to the cold pressurized air every time I nursed was a pain. Plus, it was uncomfortable for me. A low cut top on flights makes all the difference.
Factor in a couple of good breastfeeding experiences while wearing a plunging neckline, and you've got a reinforced behavior. I don't know exactly when I started doing this regularly, but now when I pick out what I'm going to to wear I also have to imagine trying to get my boob out. If I imagine myself fumbling with both hands, trying to undo burdensome buttons, or having to lift the whole garment over my head just to feed my baby, that outfit goes back into the closet. It's just not worth it yet, not while I'm still breastfeeding. Sorry blouse, maybe next year.* Sigh.*
It's amazing how many new things I have had to think about since getting pregnant and having a baby. There are so many wonderful things I will always see and understand as a result of my experiences. But this? Meh. Always having to consider breastfeeding when picking out my outfits can be annoying. The ease of breastfeeding doesn't completely make up for it.
Honestly, I’m just looking forward to a time when I can pick out what I'm wearing without prioritizing nipple access. What a weird time this is.